The Effects of Unnatural pH on Algal Growth

Jordan Moore, Ryan Morgan, Jacob Mattson, Cody Barnes


Many previous studies about how pH affects algae has been conducted on specific species of algae while using very moderate pH ranges (Hinga 2002, Chen 1994). However, within laboratory experiments using algae, scientists commonly have to work with algae with an unknown species: Chlorella spp. These studies focus on algal growth in a natural pH range (Chen 1994), but with the growing number of oil spills and pollutants in our planet’s bodies of water, we wanted to test the effect of unnatural or extreme pH ranges on algal growth. We hypothesized that extreme or unnatural pH ranges would inhibit algal growth, specifically a pH of 3 versus a pH of 5. This information is important to understand how disrupting the natural pH in an aquatic ecosystem can decrease the overall biofuel production of the ecosystem. Our results suggest that that scientific community should be cautious when adjusting the pH of their inoculate to anything less or more than a 7 and whenever there is a pollution spill in a body of water, scientists should monitor the pH to make sure it doesn’t exceed natural ranges.

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